Google Fi to carriers: don't sell our customers' location data to third parties

In the wake of this week's Motherboard scoop that the major US carriers sell customers' location data to marketing companies that sell it on to bounty hunters and other unsavory characters, Google has disclosed that they have told the carriers that supply service for its Google Fi mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that they expect that Fi customers' data will not be sold this way. Read the rest

Why the hell do we continue to believe the carriers' promises to respect our privacy?

There have been several attempts to force the US telcoms industry to respect our privacy: to stop our ISPs from spying on us and selling our usage data to marketers, to stop the mobile carriers from spying on our location and selling the data to marketers (and, it turns out, stalkers and bounty hunters), and every attempt has fizzled, as telcoms lobbyists and telcoms-funded lawmakers have sold us out, saying that the privacy rules are unnecessary because the carriers wouldn't do anything too sketchy lest they suffer reputational damage. Read the rest

Bounty hunters track targets by buying realtime location data generated by T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T

If you want to follow someone in realtime, you don't need to shell out to shady data-brokers like Securus (which use a marketing company that exploits a privacy law loophole to obtain phone location data); there are a whole constellation of location data resellers who will do business with anyone, regardless of the notional privacy protections they promise the carriers they'll put in place. Read the rest

Surveillance libraries in common smartphone apps have amassed dossiers on the minute-to-minute movements of 200 million+ Americans

An investigation by the New York Times into the shadowy world of location-data brokerages found a whole menagerie of companies from IBM, Foursquare and the Weather Channel to obscure players like Groundtruth, Fysical and Safegraph, who pay app vendors to include their tracking code in common apps. Read the rest

EBGAP: Error Between Google and Privacy

The year is 2031, and I'm going to see Avengers 7 in 8K-vision. I hop in my Goober self-driving car and notice something strange – my location is displayed on the Goober Dashboard, even though I opted out of Google AlwaysTrack™! There's a complete disconnect between what the user interface is telling me and what actually happens without my knowledge or consent.

China mandates radio-tracking beacons in all cars

As of July 1, registering a car in China will involve registering an RFID radio-beacon that will be planted on the car in order to track its movements. Read the rest

The most interesting thing about the "Thanksgiving Effect" study is what it tells us about the limits of data anonymization

Late last year, a pair of economists released an interesting paper that used mobile location data to estimate the likelihood that political polarization had shortened family Thanksgiving dinners in 2016. Read the rest

Ad brokers are selling the fact that you visited an emergency room to ambulance-chasing lawyers

Philadelphia's WHYY radio reports that visitors to the city's hospital emergency room are blitzed for weeks with ads for personal injury lawyers, thanks to "geofenced ad" brokerages. Read the rest

California proposes location-tracking, e-ink license plates that display "STOLEN" if a car is boosted

A new California pilot program will let drivers replace their metal license plates with e-ink versions that will eliminate the need to use stickers to prove that you've renewed your tags, allow you to display arbitrary vanity messages when the car is stationary (the license plate number shrinks down and displays in a corner under these circumstances, allowing meter-maids to still ticket you), and to remote switch your plate display to STOLEN if your car is ripped off. Read the rest

The secret, unaccountable location-tracking tool favored by dirty cops has been hacked (and it wasn’t hard)

Securus is the widely abused location-tracking tool that exploits a loophole in privacy law to allow police to extract realtime and historical cellphone location data without a warrant or any accountability. Read the rest

Raleigh cops are investigating crime by getting Google to reveal the identity of every mobile user within acres of the scene

Public records requests have revealed that on at least four occasions, the Raleigh-Durham police obtained warrants forcing Google to reveal the identities of every mobile user within acres of a crime scene, sweeping up the personal information of thousands of people in a quest to locate a single perp. Read the rest

Seattle spends five years failing to come up with a privacy policy for its $3.6m surveillance network, then spends $150k ripping it out

Five years after activists forced Seattle's mayor to return the city's surveillance drones to their manufacturer, the city has announced that it is terminating its warrantless mass-surveillance program altogether. Read the rest

After ACLU investigation, Twitter blocks US surveillance "fusion centers" from monitoring tool

The ACLU of Northern California recently published a leaked email showing that Dataminr -- a Twitter-monitoring company partially owned by Twitter itself -- was selling access to US domestic surveillance "fusion centers" where local, state and federal agencies pool resources to spy on their targets. Read the rest

Thai telcoms regulator wants tourists to use location-tracking SIMs

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission has proposed issuing tracking-chips to all visitors to the country, which would allow the government to monitor the movements of all foreign nationals while in-country, in order to "locate them which will help if there are some tourists who overstay or run away (from police)." Read the rest